On This Page
- What is Bourbon virus?
- How do people get infected with Bourbon virus?
- Where have cases of Bourbon virus disease occurred?
- What are the symptoms of Bourbon virus?
- Who is at risk for infection with Bourbon virus?
- How can people reduce the chance of becoming infected with Bourbon virus?
- How do I know if I have been infected with Bourbon virus?
- What is the treatment for Bourbon virus disease?
- What should I do if I think someone might be infected with Bourbon virus?
- Can Bourbon virus cause animals to become ill?
- Information about Bourbon virus for healthcare providers
- Bourbon virus resources
Bourbon virus belongs to a group of viruses called thogotoviruses. Viruses in this group are found all over the world. A few of these viruses can cause people to get sick.
We do not yet fully know how people become infected with Bourbon virus. However, based on what we know about similar viruses, it is likely that Bourbon virus is spread through tick or other insect bites.
As of June 27, 2017, a limited number of Bourbon virus disease cases have been identified in the Midwest and southern United States. Some people who have been infected later died. At this time, we do not know if the virus might be found in other areas of the United States.
Because there have been few cases identified thus far, scientists are still learning about possible symptoms caused by this new virus. People diagnosed with Bourbon virus disease had symptoms including fever, tiredness, rash, headache, other body aches, nausea, and vomiting. They also had low blood counts for cells that fight infection and help prevent bleeding.
People likely become infected with Bourbon virus when they are bitten by a tick or other insect. Therefore, people who do not take steps to protect themselves from tick or insect bites when they work or spend time outside may be more likely to be infected.
There is no vaccine or drug to prevent or treat Bourbon virus disease. Therefore, preventing bites from ticks and other insects may be the best way to prevent infection. Here are ways to protect yourself from tick and other bug bites when you are outdoors:
- Use insect repellents
- Wear long sleeves and pants
- Avoid bushy and wooded areas
- Perform thorough tick checks after spending time outdoors
Additional information on reducing exposure to ticks is available on the CDC Ticks website.
Tests that will help a doctor diagnose Bourbon virus infection are currently under development. See your healthcare provider if you have any symptoms that concern you.
Because there is no medicine to treat Bourbon virus disease, doctors can only treat the symptoms. For example, some patients may need to be hospitalized and given intravenous fluids and treatment for pain and fever. Antibiotics are not effective against viruses, including Bourbon virus.
See your healthcare provider if you have any symptoms that concern you.
Scientists do not yet know what animals can get infected or become sick from Bourbon virus. Studies are ongoing to look at this. See your veterinarian if your pet or livestock have any symptoms that concern you.
Bourbon virus is a novel RNA virus in the genus Thogotovirus (family Orthomyxoviridae) that was discovered in Bourbon County, Kansas in 2014.
There have been a limited number of Bourbon virus disease cases identified in the United States. Most patients reported exposure to ticks before becoming ill.
Clinical Signs and Symptoms
Patients with Bourbon virus have reported fever, fatigue, anorexia, nausea, vomiting, and maculopapular rash. They were also found to have thrombocytopenia and leukopenia. Based on the patient’s clinical signs and symptoms, they were thought to have a tickborne disease. Some of the patients found to be infected with Bourbon virus have died during their acute illness.
Treatment and Outcome
Currently there are no specific medications or therapies for Bourbon virus disease. Supportive therapy is recommended for any patient suspected of having Bourbon virus disease.
There is no routine testing available for Bourbon virus. However, protocols are in place to allow people to be tested for evidence of Bourbon virus infections. Please contact your state health department if you have a patient with an acute illness that might be compatible with Bourbon virus infection.
- Kosoy OI, Lambert AJ, Hawkinson DJ, Pastula DM, Goldsmith CS, Hunt DC, et al. Novel Thogotovirus species associated with febrile illness and death, United States, 2014. Emerg Infect Dis. 2015 May;21(5):760-4.
- Kansas Department of Health and Environment. KDHE and CDC Investigate New Virus. Accessed on February 10, 2015.
- Lambert AJ, Velez JO, Brault AC, Calvert AE, Bell-Sakyi L, Bosco-Lauth AM, et al. Molecular, serological and in vitro culture-based characterization of Bourbon virus, a newly described human pathogen of the genus Thogotovirus. J Clin Virol. 2015 Dec;73:127-32.
- CDC’s Advanced Molecular Detection story Tried-and-true and State-of-the-art Combine to Uncover a Hidden Virus.
- Page last reviewed: February 19, 2015
- Page last updated: June 28, 2017
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